Tablet Opinion

Fort Worth school district backs young men of color

Despite the jubilant announcement in April that the Texas high school Class of 2012 had the highest graduation rate among African-American students in the country, the achievement gap for young men of color nationwide remains stubbornly wide.

There are a lot of reasons for the disparity in academic and job success — social and economic — many beyond the scope of teachers and schools, at least in practice.

But while there are no easy or certain solutions, there are some things that school districts can do to improve the circumstances for young men of color. And the Fort Worth school board is committing to do some of them.

In May, the Fort Worth district pledged to do its part to help extend educational opportunities to young minority men by adopting 11 actions recommended by Great City Schools to better equip these youth for academic, professional and life success.

These actions include: ensuring that pre-school efforts better serve males of color and their academic and social development; adopting and implementing elementary and middle school efforts to increase the “pipeline” of males of color who are on track to succeed in high school, and increasing the numbers participating in advanced placement, honors and gifted-and-talented programs; and reducing the disproportionate number of males of color who are absent, suspended or expelled.

Fort Worth Trustee Ashley Paz was present at an event in Washington, D.C., on Monday, joining leaders of 60 of the largest urban school systems in the nation with similar commitments at a White House event sponsored by President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.

A 2010 report by Great City Schools said the education, social and employment outcomes of African-American males are equivalent to a “national catastrophe” and demand a coordinated and national effort to address them.

Acting Superintendent Pat Linares characterized the need to improve the success rates of these at-risk young men as a “moral responsibility.” And the school district, in committing to devote resources to improving outcomes for minority boys, seems to be taking that responsibility seriously.

That commitment deserves praise and support.